An eclectic guide to the best productivity apps 2017

I’m taking a broad view of productivity as I run down what I believe are the best productivity apps you need to be running in 2017, and you’ll see what I mean by “taking a broad view” as I detail the first app on my list. I’m also going to touch on apps and services across all the platforms, including the Apple Watch.

1Password. This is a password app that functions across all of your devices. You compose one master password (or use the iOS fingerprint function) to unlock the app. It then fills in your username and password.

Let’s be honest here, most people are very lax in their password security habits. 1Password will create long passwords that use all the letters, numbers, and symbols on your keyboard. This will save you a bit of time by eliminating the need to look up, create, and enter strong passwords, but more importantly, it will save you from the lost productivity suffered if and when you have a security breach.

It’s like they say: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That is the essence of productivity.

RoundTeam. This is an online service that posts to your Twitter account. There are many scheduling apps available – such as Hootsuite and Buffer – but RoundTeam doesn’t require you to find the content.

Here’s how it works: You create a list on your Twitter account and Round Team will create posts from that list. You can set up filters, frequency, and the times of day you want it to post. Once you set it up, you can walk away and never have to tend to it again.

If you have just one Twitter account to which you’d like to add an “autopilot” feature, the free RoundTeam level will be fine.

TripAdvisor. If you travel for business or need to entertain clients, the Apple Watch TripAdvisor app will enhance your productivity. Getting to the best places quickly and efficiently when you’re on the road is a must. Having the latest crowd-sourced information available on your wrist is an invaluable service.

Harvest. This is time tracking, expense reporting, timesheet approval, and invoicing software all in one app. Harvest has reports and graphs that let you know how you’re doing with billing and timing on specific projects so you can maintain control – and profitability.

If you’re a solopreneur or freelancer, you might be able to get by with the free version of Harvest.

Forest. For day-by-day, hour-by-hour productivity, the Pomodoro technique is tried and true. There are many apps that will take you through the 25-minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of down time routine, but while all are functional, few are very interesting. Forest changed that by using gamification. Instead of merely watching a timer count down, you plant trees and watch them grow. The browser plugins are free; the mobile device apps are a couple of dollars.

Streaks. In terms of personal productivity, the single biggest secret is to create good habits – it isn’t by accident that Steven Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” has been a perennial bestseller. Streaks is an app designed to help you form good habits…well, six of them at least (sorry, Mr. Covey). This is an Apple app that is especially effective when used with the Apple Watch.

IFTTT and Zapier. These are sort of the Legos for productivity nerds. IFTTT (if this then that) and Zapier allow you to connect apps and services so you can integrate, automate, and (hopefully) innovate. A friend of mine uses IFTTT to create Google doc spreadsheets that collect all the Tweets of a specific hashtag. He can then quickly scan the latest spreadsheet to see if there is anything worth retweeting. On the Zapier website they proclaim, “Wave goodbye to busywork” – reducing busywork should always be a high priority for a small business owner.

Do you have any favorite productivity apps that we may not have yet heard about? Apps like Evernote, Hootsuite, and Buffer, are excellent, but I don’t know if we need to say much more about them at this point…so let us in on your secrets!